Tillerson will be out at State Department within weeks

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Yet divisions on key foreign policy issues emerged quickly, and Trump has repeatedly undermined Tillerson by voicing positions at odds with those the State Department was pushing.

While President Trump has clashed with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he appears fond of Pompeo, accepting daily briefings from the West Point grad.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders later told reporters: "As the President just said, 'Rex is here.' There are no personnel announcements at this time".

Reports that the White House had a tentative plan to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were an effort to express President Donald Trump's deep displeasure and publicly shame his secretary of state, a source with direct knowledge of the White House's thinking said Thursday.

If Cotton were to take the Central Intelligence Agency job, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, would select someone to fill the vacant seat - and Republican officials would have a tight time frame to field a candidate who can win statewide in 2018, even though Arkansas is a deep red state.

The succession plan was developed by chief of staff John Kelly and is expected to occur around the end of the year or shortly after.

It was not clear whether Trump plans to throw Tillerson, who in October reportedly called the president a "moron", overboard.

Tillerson's likely ouster, which was first reported by the New York Times, loomed awkwardly over an Oval Office meeting Thursday between Trump and the visiting Bahraini crown prince.

"He remains secretary of State", she added.

She said she doesn't know how the videos got in front of Trump and wouldn't say whether they were real. She did suggest that no move was imminent, saying the president and Tillerson planned to "work together to close out what we've seen to be an incredible year". Trump has never been one to favor diplomacy either, despite his talk of making deals, and while it makes some sense that he would want a top diplomat who is similarly averse to talking, it's also clearly risky.

When Tillerson in June called on Arab nations to ease their blockade on Qatar, Trump emerged in the Rose Garden hours later to lambaste Qatar for funding terrorism.

Tillerson joined Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in pressing Trump not to pull the United States out of an agreement with Iran and world powers over Tehran's nuclear capabilities.

At a private dinner of foreign policy veterans last month, a senior White House official criticized Tillerson for failing to support the president's agenda, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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